Every week I do a little online radio show called Coder Radio with incomparable Chris Fisher. Most of the show’s feedback is overwhelmingly positive, however, there is, on occasion, a comment made about the show lacking in “code”. In the past, I’ve brushed these comments off by reading a little Objective-C or Ruby on air in order to make a point — the point being that reading code on air or getting extremely technical is more than a little boring. Still, I’m doing more than trying to entertain by not reading out code on air or going into the nitty gritty of the latest hot API.
To start, APIs change and like all creative works (yes, coding is a creative exercise) are products of the time and place they were written in. As a thought exercise let’s take a look at Dropbox’s new mobile APIs aimed at handling what (boiled down to its most basic oversimplified definition) could be called super-caching. That’s a really good idea in 2013, when a lot of people have smart devices but terrible mobile service. However, it’ll seem pretty quant in ten or so years when the world is blanketed with the equivalent of Fios over the airwaves at an affordable price. Of course there is an aspect of the show that focuses on what’s new or ‘in”, but on the whole I try to keep the show as “evergreen” as possible.
I like C# but maybe you don’t. Would you really want to listen to someone go on and on about the particulars of C#? Conversely, maybe you like PHP, but I only go in depth on C family languages — is that giving you a lot of value? When it comes down to it the particulars of a given language are just that particular to that specific language. Larger concepts, however, can provide value to all sorts of developers working on any platform.
I’ve noticed that it is mostly the younger set of the audience that seems to have the issue and to a point that makes sense. After all, when you are just starting out it seems like learning the API for whatever platform you are working on is your highest priority, because you are under a lot of pressure to actually prove yourself. However, once you get beyond that initial green period, you’ll likely find that being successful in the industry has very little to do with ho well you know a particular API but rather how well you can navigate processes, understand other disciplines including business and business development, and (I know this will sting a few of you) interact with people in meaningful and pleasant ways.